Music Reviews



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Artist: Ashlar (@)
Title: St.James' Gardens
Format: CD
Label: Hibernate (@)
Rated: *****
Both explorative visitors and resident Liverpudlians have maybe experienced the peacefully beautiful setting of St.James cemetery nearby Anglican Cathedral in Merseyside, where you can easily relax and enjoy the surrounding grandeur of nature and history: Liverpool's first public park was originally a quarry, but its secluded and somewhat cloistered position which could inspire relax, ravishing and daydreaming contemplation was supposedly known by those who named t.James hill Mount Zion. Its maze-like amalgam of arbours, gravestones, Victorian monuments, recesses and tunnels inspired this lovely release by Ashlar, the collaborative project by Wil Bolton and Phil Edwards, who combined field recordings grabbed inside and nearby St.James' Gardens and instrumental brush strokes, which got recorded at Cathedral Chambers. They managed to render a sonic virtual tour in the gardens by highlighting the emotional inferences and even historical memories: the initial "Winding Nature" emphasizes the wind gusts which blow into gardens and seems to recall the windmills at the edge of the quarry by means of billows of acoustic and electric guitar and graceful electronics, but then the enchanted sonic ablutions seem to respectfully crouch on the following "Monuments" by making an ideal connections between gravestones, memorials and more or less illustrious buried people by feeding cogitations whose sacredness got rendered by sunken guitar phrasing. This virtual tour ends on "The Oratory", where quiet synth-bubbles and soothing arpeggios mix sonic inputs up with Neoclassical architecture of the Oratory while descendants of Liver Bird supposedly try to socialize with Tracey Emin's little bronze bird!
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Artist: Fractals
Title: Forward in Time E.P.
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Killscreen Recordings (@)
Distributor: Killscreen Recordings
From Killscreen Recordings comes the album 'Forward in Time E.P' by Jim Wheatley, also known as the artist Fractals. Long a presence on the DJ and mashup scene in the UK, Fractals claims the 'influence of Blu Mar Ten, Metalheadz, Marcus Intalex and Breakage', according the Killscreen liner notes. There are four tracks in this album for a total running time of 22:42.

The first of these is 'In Time' and this begins with a strong percussion line ' a feature common to all the pieces in this album. A high whooshing sound is heard that contrasts with a low growling bass line. This mixture is interspersed with the occasional processed vocal followed by a fading echo. This combination produces a partly ominous and partly declarative feeling to the music and the net effect is that the track feels like an amalgam of announcement and warning ' the present in anticipation of the future.

'Ego' follows, and starts with a clearly heard processed vocal: 'The definition of fractal...' High dreamy sounds contrast with a characteristically strong beat and sharp, distinctive percussion. More vocals with echo are heard ' but hard to make out. Bass guitar with distortion adds to the beat and the relentless drive of this piece, making a statement on the pace of contemporary life.

'Dark Matter' is the third track and begins with high staccato percussion and a dance-like rhythm in the guitar. This morphs into a more alien, pulsing sound with 'technology' repeated in the processed vocals. The dance rhythm reappears and forms a marked contrast to the 'technology' sounds as if expressing nostalgia for the past combined with an apprehension for the future.

'Electron Dub' is the final track and this features syncopated rhythm, shooting guitar riffs combined with high soft sounds. Now a solid arcade game texture emerges, but still with the continuous dance rhythm. The contrast between the feel of the dance and the more technological sounds produces an effective sense of tension that is shared by the other tracks.

This album is a solidly framed work that makes a statement about the uncertainty of the future in our 21st century. The mixing and editing of all the tracks are excellent. For those who like their rhythm strong, clear and straight ahead, 'Forward in Time E.P.' delivers.
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Artist: Beata Hlavenková (@)
Title: ΘΕΟΔΩΡΟΣ
Format: 12"
Label: Minority Records (@)
Rated: *****
The first beautiful full-length album "Joy For Joel" was dedicated to her first born son Mathias Joel and featured many talented guests. this second album followed her second son Theodor Eli that she conceived with her beloved husband, the Czech guitarist, composer and producer Patrik Hlavenka (Patrick Karpentski), but this time gifted pianist and composer Beata Hlavenkova decided to play on her own and the final result is really amazing and meaningful. this welcomed new arrival inspired Beata to celebrate every single instant of life and I'm pretty sure tat she could have made a composition for every single second, but she limited to a track for each month of the year. According to Beata's own words, "the Greek name Theodoros means "God's gist", like Mathias in Hebrew. When I starte to compose I realised that God's gift is life to me. It is formed of years, months, days. it was thus absolutely natural that compositions will be named after the calendar months. Musical circumstances resulting in this album were however different. They are based on the fascination from a song and its simplicity. the opposite pole to the first musical world. Theodoros draws from both and absorbs these paths through my musical perception". The astonishing dynamics of her style, which combines minimalism, French impressionism and modern jazz technique (particularly for some voicing techniques), the neatness of her phrasing, the remarkably spontaneity of her way of flying over piano keys, the ability of linking melodies together by means of both left and right hand, which seems to alternate in sustaining melody, and above all the spellbinding balance of her music will let you hope she could carry on a new pregnancy as soon as possible! Strongly suggested listening!
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Artist: Uncodified/Satanismo Calibro 9
Title: Adamant Orgon Ritual
Format: CD
Label: Old Europa Cafè (@)
Rated: *****
Two of the most interesting creative forces of underground Italian industrial scene, Sardinian experimental noiser Corrado Alteri aka Uncodified and the obscure collective Satanismo Calibro 9, joined respective sonic fluxes in a powerful release which is going to detonate listener's cathexis. The crossbreed of the meticulously built electro-mechanical cellular tissue by Uncodified and the incisive strategy by Satanismo Calibro 9, whose curettage from interconnected symbolical as well as stylistical fields such as dark-industrial, brutal power-electronics and ritual ambient seems to be intended to perform exorcisms on listener's intimate impulses and visceral drives, materializes in a potentially noxious suppuration of piercing and sometimes obsessive streams, which got ignited by the magnetic typhoons, the sudden bursts of electricity and vocal recordings which seems to have been grabbed from the preaching of some hyped televangelist of "The Truth Speaks In Tongues". They keep on charging orgonic accumulators - the reference of the whole release is obviously to the banned practices and studies by Wilhelm Reich - by the overlayered electric scrapes of "Adamant Ritual", the drilling corrosion of "Premonition Of The Void" and the porous strictures and the hypnotical listlessness of "Orgonic Mass", before the final frightening catatonic seizures of "Origin & Return", "Beyond The Aether" and the seventh untitled "hidden" track whose sonic hank got frayed by transpiring choked shouts, knocks on metallic cages, muffled pealing and subcutaneous tremors as if the evoked sexual energies, which got unchained by prolonged isolations, had finally turned into uncontrollable desctructive impetus.
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Artist: Son Of Chainsaw
Title: License To Spill
Format: CD & Vinyl
Label: Clogsontronics (@)
Rated: *****
I have to follow my instinct, S.O.C. a.k.a. Son Of Chainsaw seem to me to be a collective of people who decided to let go all the conventions and to experiment with music, media and visuals. Their story is epic and a hoax, both. Formed by Slim Pickled, Ozzy Darantino and Clark Kennie (real name Richard Neumoller), Son Of Chainsaw met ten years ago online at a place called "The Parallel Room". They started to work on their music without never met. After four years they decided to finally met each other and they picked up a symbolic place: the Dalai Lama palace in Tibet. After three months of meditation and musical experimentation with Tibetan Holy Chants, tribal Alaskan rhythms and real instruments such as drums, bass and guitar, on the new year's eve of 1998 they held an internet concert followed by two million of people. That was the first of their successes which they repeated with tours and other stuff you can read on their website. Musically I can talk about this album titled "License To Spill". Released by Clogsontronics after six years of hiatus from their latest release, the album presents eleven tracks of what the band calls "hydraulic jazz punk" and to my ears it sounds like a puzzle formed by midi music, jazz, electronic, spy music soundtracks. They seems to be a mix from Fripp and Zappa with no limits about their influences. Their info sheet reports that: "The music, gets derived from an Atari based midi setup, two Yamaha TX16W samplers, a drum machine and tone modules". They sample from cinema, TV, radio and 'scratch sessions' on Heino, Spike Jones and Carl Stalling records. The tracks tend to pass suddenly from a genre to another with piano, bass or blows solos just to add Chinese TV music samples. They are inspired and really crazy and it gets a little to get acquainted to their music. Released on a limited edition of 550 LP+CD, "License To Spill" is the "very best of the best of the greatest hits", as the cover reports. You can check some tracks at the label's and the band's websites.
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